Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dutch Oven Baking Book Gives Trade Secrets

Bruce Tracy of "Dutch Oven Baking." photo by Valerie Phillips

I own three cast-iron Dutch ovens that I use  mainly for summer cook-outs. Like most people, I tend to stick with stew, barbecue chicken and cowboy potatoes. Baking bread, rolls, cakes or pies can be tricky when you are using only charcoal briquettes as a heat source.
That's why I enjoyed reading Bruce Tracy's book, "Dutch Oven Baking," (Gibbs Smith, $15.99) Bruce and his wife Vickie, who live in Ogden, Utah, are past winners of the  International Dutch Oven Society's world championship. I did a recent story in the Standard-Examiner about Bruce's new book. 
The Dutch oven has a major place in the history of the Old West as the portable cooking appliance of the day. It's baking capability was widely used out on the open range. By placing hot coals on top of the rimmed lid and under the pot's three-legged bottom, pioneers or cowboys had an oven that could bake johnnycakes and biscuits. 
Of course, modern-day kitchen ovens with built-in thermostats for heat control have made outdoor baking almost a lost art.

Tracy's love affair with Dutch oven cooking began when his wife, Vickie Tracy, gave him a Dutch oven for Father's Day in the early 1990s. In Utah, Dutch oven cook-offs are a highlight of many county fairs and local festivals. Tracy started entering.
 "I'm a competitive type, and I saw a cook-off announced in the paper for Cherry Days, and thought I'd try it," Tracy said. "I didn't have a clue of what I was doing, and we didn't even place. But I learned from the other people there.  The next cook-off I was in, the Weber County single-pot, I won."
Tracy was a seven-time finalist in the IDOS World Championship — the Olympics of Dutch oven cooking.  Just getting a berth is an achievement, since teams have to win an IDOS-sanctioned cook-off in order to qualify. The contestants pull out all the stops, with dishes more likely to be seen at a four-star restaurant than a camp-out.
When he and Vickie took the title in 2004, they wowed the judges with Cheese-Stuffed Pork Loin with New Potatoes and Stuffed Mushrooms, a perfectly baked Challah Holiday Bread with Parmesan Dipping Butter, and a stunning Poached Pear and Almond Tart.
He's sharing what he knows in his book, with 64 recipes that all can be baked outdoors in a Dutch oven or indoors in a regular oven. He notes that recipes sized for a 12-inch Dutch oven can be baked in a 9-by-13-inch pan.
"The recipes are designed for the backyard cook, but there are recipes in here that are good enough for competition," he said.
One of his signature recipes is Cheese Onion Rolls, which also appear on the book cover.
 Temperature control is the key to successful baking, he said. A common mistake is to pile too many coals on the bottom of the pan, which will cause your food to burn. The majority of the coals should be placed on the top of the lid,  to help the food brown on top instead of burning on the bottom. 
To determine how many charcoal briquettes are needed to maintain a 350-degree temperature: Multiply the size of the oven by two. A 12-inch Dutch oven would require 24 coals. Then divide that number by three, and place one-third of the coals (eight) on the bottom, in a circle, and two-thirds (16) on the top in a ring around the rim of the lid.
If you want to learn more about Dutch oven cooking, the IDOS Spring Convention is May 10-11 at the Davis County Fairgrounds in Ogden. All day Saturday there will be a lot of cooking demos, vendors selling Dutch oven equipment, and experts to help you get started.  Admission is free.
And Bruce Tracy will be on hand to sign copies of his book!  Here's one of his recipes:

Cheese Onion Rolls
12-inch oven
7-8 coals on bottom
15-16 coals on top
(For indoor oven, 350 degrees F)
 1 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, divided
4-5 cups flour, divided
2 packages instant yeast
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, optional
In a large bowl, mix together water and sugar. Add oil, salt and 2 eggs. Carefully add 2 cups of flour and yeast until incorporated and then stir vigorously for 30 seconds. Add more flour, 1 cup at a time, until you have a soft dough. Knead on a board until the dough is well-formed and elastic. Roll the dough around in a large oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until almost double in size, about 20-30 minutes.
Sprinkle a little flour on your bread board and spread dough out into a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray and spread with cheese and onion. Roll up from the long side jelly-roll style. Cut into triangles like this: \ / \ / \ / \ / \ /
Spray Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange rolls in a circle, small end toward the center and just touching. Make an egg wash by stirring together the remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush tops of rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Put the lid on and let rise again until just double in size, about 20-40 minutes. The rolls will fill the oven. Bake, using 7-8 coals underneath the oven and 15-16 coals on top, for about 45 minutes. Every 15 minutes, gently turn the oven about a quarter turn over the coals, and then turn the lid the opposite direction, to prevent hot spots. After 30 minutes, check the rolls for browning. When they begin to brown, remove the bottom coals. When they are golden brown, maybe 5 minutes later, remove the rest of the coals from the top. Leave the rolls in the oven for about 10 minutes after the heat is removed, with the lid cracked. Remove to a trivet to cool.
—"Dutch Oven Baking" by Bruce Tracy
(Gibbs Smith, $15.99)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Viet Pham: The Next Food Network Star?

Celebrating Viet Pham's "Iron Chef" win last January.

Utah chef Viet Pham has been announced as a contestant on the ninth season of "The Next Food Network Star."
The reality series makes a group of chefs compete in nerve-wracking challenges, with the grand prize being their own series on the Food Network.  
Past winners of "The Next Food Network Star" include Guy Fieri of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," and Melissa D'Arabian of "Ten Dollar Dinners." 
The season premiere is June 2.
Pham, who owns the Salt Lake City restaurant Forage, is the only Utah contestant in the group, according to a Food Network press release.  Judges are Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis and Alton Brown, with a "focus groups" of food fans taking part as well.
It will be interesting to see if Flay's judging will be biased by the fact that Pham beat him on an episode of "Iron Chef America" earlier this year.
Pham has gotten a lot of attention since he and Bowman Brown opened Forage in 2009. He and Brown were named Best New Chef by" Food & Wine" magazine in 2011.
He was also the runner-up on the Food Network's "Extreme Chef" last year.  When I interviewed him in January, he said that while filming "Extreme Chef," he managed to impress judge Simon Majumdar.
“Simon Majumdar told his agent about me, and the agent flew out to Utah and had dinner at Forage,” Pham told me in a telephone interview.
Soon after, the agent called, telling Pham he was going to be competing on “Iron Chef.”  It seems his agent is continuing to do a bang-up job.
Visiting with Kelsey Nixon at the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 2012.
The last Utahan who was on "The Next Food Network Star" was Kelsey Nixon of North Ogden. The BYU grad made it to the final four contestants before being eliminated, and viewers voted her the Fan Favorite.  
Even though she wasn't the season winner, Nixon was put on the Food Network's "farm team," (that's how she described it in a later interview with me). Her series, "Kelsey's Essentials," is now filming its fifth season on the Cooking Channel (owned by the Food Network), and last year she began hosting another Cooking Channel program, "The Perfect 3."
Last year when I spoke with Nixon, she jokingly described her "The Next Food Network Star" experience as "I had no idea of what I was getting into — the million-dollar experience you would never pay a dollar to be in again!"
And, she credits part of her success to Bobby Flay —the same guy that Viet Pham beat out on "Iron Chef." Flay's own Rock Shrimp Productions became her show's producer.
"Bobby Flay became a great mentor to me," Nixon said.
As far as nerve-wracking challenges go, Pham already has a head start due to his turn on "Extreme Chef." The chefs had to had to be physically and mentally tough to do things like salvage their own ingredients from a capsized fishing boat. Fans will remember Pham's rallying cry, "Beef tongue, baby, beef tongue!" as he improvised a quality dish from a can of pickled beef tongue in the scorching desert. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Celebrate National Cornbread Week

Z'Tejas cornbread.
As I've noted before, there are lots of designated food "holidays," and one of them is National Cornbread Day on April 27. Time to bake up your favorite cornbread recipe, or enjoy it at your favorite restaurant.

For years, I thought Marie Callender's had the corner on cornbread. During the 1980s, Ogden had a  Marie Callender's on Harrison Boulevard, south of Weber State College and McKay-Dee Hospital Center. I worked in McKay-Dee's community relations department and lived nearby. Salad bars were the "in" thing, and we liked going to Marie's and having the potato-cheese soup, a slice of cornbread and a trip to the salad bar. The cornbread was so sweet and filling there was no need to order pie (although sometimes we did anyway).
Another chain that's become known for cornbread is Z'Tejas, but it's served with a bit more of a Southwestern flair in a small cast-iron skillet. My favorite menu item is the Smoked Chicken Chile Relleno, a poblano pepper stuffed with chicken, pecans, apricots, raisins and Jack cheese, topped with pepitas and an artsy-looking drizzle of sour cream. What sets this apart from other relleno dishes is that the poblano is grilled, not the usual battered-and-fried.  A wedge of cornbread is the perfect accompaniment.  

At Z’Tejas, cornbread is automatically delivered to each table, in the same way that you can always count on breadsticks at Olive Garden. 
Additionally, April 22 through 26 is National Administrative Professionals Week. Guests can show appreciation to coworkers with lunch at Z’Tejas, located at 191 South Rio Grande Street (at the Gateway). Every administrative professional that visits will get a slice of Ancho Fudge Pie throughout the week.
Here is the make-at-home version, courtesy of Z'Tejas: 
Z'Tejas Cornbread:

Yields 4 – 6 1/2 in skillets
IngredientsCorn Meal 1 1/2 cups
Flour 1 1/2 cups
Sugar 1/3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon
Baking Powder 1 tablespoons
Baking Soda 1 tablespoons
Yogurt (plain) 1 cup
Cream Corn 1/3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon
Corn (frozen) 1/3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon
Buttermilk 1 1/2 cups
Eggs 3 each
Butter (melted) 1/3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon
Salt 1/4 teaspoon
PreparationMix all dry ingredients together. In a large mixing bowl, whisk all wet ingredients together.
Then add dry ingredients to form batter.
Use a small pre-heated skillet, spray with non-stick cooking spray and then fill with 9 ounces of batter.

Bake at 375 degrees for 16 minutes. Rotate at 8 minutes.
These recipes prepared by using a convection oven so try 400 degrees in regular oven.
Test by using a toothpick in the center of the corn bread. Toothpick should come out clean.

High West Distillery Offerring Whiskey-Flavored Chocolates

   High West Distillery & Saloon, Utah's first legal distillery since 1870, is celebrating two of the world's finest culinary delights with paired flights of its award winning whiskeys and locally handcrafted chocolates.
"When we met Utah's own artisan chocolatier Ruth Kendrick, we knew immediately that her one-of-a-kind gourmet chocolates would be the perfect complements to our whiskeys," High West proprietor David Perkins said. "Our paired whiskey-and-chocolate flight is a gastronomic experience you just have to try."
High West executive chef James Dumas paired four silky chocolate truffles with four High West aged whiskeys: Chocolate Pomegranate and Double Rye!; Mint Chocolate and Rendezvous Rye; Beehive Honey dark chocolate and Son of Bourye; and Aztec Spice and Campfire Whiskey.  As an interesting twist, Dumas also paired High West's two unaged Silver Whiskey's: Meyer lemon-white chocolate and Silver Western Oat; and Dark Chocolate Key Lime and OMG Pure Rye.
Those who embark on High West's chocolate-and-whiskey flight should move from light to dark among the whiskeys, Dumas suggests.  
"I take a sip of whiskey to cleanse the palate, then I slowly chew and enjoy the chocolate, once the palate is coated with the chocolate, I follow with another sip of the whiskey. The alcohol enhances the aromatics of the chocolate for an intense organoleptic experience," Perkins said. "This is the ultimate grown-up dessert."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

BIGGEST LOSER: Jackson Carter's Weight Loss Tips

Jackson Carter working out post- Biggest Loser
Jackson Carter knows a lot about losing weight. Not only did he lost 138 pounds during this past season of "The Biggest Loser," he's lost another 10 pounds since the finale.
I interviewed Jackson, who lives in Layton, Utah, last week for this story in the Standard-Examiner. And I did a separate blog post where he dished a little about the show and whether Jillian is really THAT mean.
Of course we all want to know his weight loss magic bullet, but unfortunately, there isn't one. It boils down to exercising 60-90 minutes per day and eating mainly lean protein and vegetables. I watched Jackson's homemade circuit training routine — jumping rope, burpees, weightlifting, and throwing a medicine ball against the wall,  and he kept up a pretty intense pace. It's not a leisurely stroll on the treadmill, but it's less strenuous than the 4-8 hours per day of exercise the contestants put in while at the "Biggest Loser" ranch. 
Here are some tips that Jackson shared to help get into  weight-loss mode.  
Burpees are part of Jackson Carter's circuit training.

The Biggest Loser" starts people off with intense workouts... in fact, the first day Jackson fell off the treadmill and had to have an oxygen mask. But that's not the way to do it in the real world.

- Put yourself first: "Something I learned on the ranch is that I have to make myself a priority," he said. "My health had to come before anything else. For every hour of volunteering I do, I spend 15 minutes working out."
Jackson Carter's circuit training post-Biggest Loser. 

Compete  against yourself: In an upstairs corner of the Clearfield Aquatics Center where Carter did his circuit routine. he timed himself, and then tried to beat his previous time. 
The key, he said, is finding out where your fitness level is and then surpassing it. "It took me 22 minutes to do a mile when I started on the ranch.  I just finished a mile in 8.42 seconds a few days ago. Don't be discouraged with your first number, look forward to your next number."
Control stress: "Stress will make you hold onto weight like nothing else," he said. "Take some time out and pull yourself out of a stressful situation if you are trying to get your health in order. That's why some people go on vacations and actually lose weight."
Monitor yourself: He still wears  a Bodymedia device on his arm that tracks how many calories he uses throughout the day.
"It's one of the most helpful tools that we got on the ranch," he said. "We needed to know how many calories we were expending, because it takes 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat." 

Plan ahead: He grocery shops with a list, and spends a few hours once a week prepping veggies like carrots, celery and broccoli to store in plastic grab-and-go "baggies." Knowing he has healthy food already prepared curbs any temptation to stop at the drive-through.
"In my gym bag I have a whole arsenal of things  — a baggie of almonds for a good, satisfying crunch and a good protein. Also hummus and pita chips, or a dried vegetable such as dehydrated sweet potatoes for dipping. And low-fat string cheese."
Go lean. "Dolvett's big advice was 'lean protein and vegetables to lose the weight.' He probably said that as many times as he said my name. So my dinner plate will be 50 percent green vegetables, and a protein of some sort." 
Breakfast is often eggs, maybe spinach topped with a little cheese, and toast. "Carbs are a good thing to eat in the morning because you can spend the rest of the day burning them off," Carter said.
Calories count. He tries to eat about 2,000 calories a day, "But it's a little bit tough when it's 2,000 calories of vegetables and lean meats like turkey or chicken or lean cuts of beef.  That's a lot of bang for your buck."
Curb cravings. "Cravings are never going to go away.  There are times that I could definitely go for a piece of cake or French fries, but it's a matter of visualizing.  I keep a pair of my size 42 pants in my room. No packet of fries is worth going back to that. It's not a matter of diet anymore. This is my life now."
Strategize. " My friends are never going to stop going to dinner, and since I want to hang out with them, I get creative a little bit. I can find things on the menu that stay within what I need to eat."
And, he fills up on a big serving of steamed veggies right before he heads for the restaurant.
Be accountable: ""A trainer definitely will push you harder than you think you need to be pushed, and it's someone to be accountable to," he said. "If you can afford one, it's great investment. But if you can't, find someone to be accountable to — a friend, one of your kids, a buddy or spouse.  You are less likely to fall off the wagon."
Start small so you don't get discouraged and sore.

 "It worked for us because we had trainers," he said. "But for people who don't have trainers, if you have 30 minutes, go for a walk. It will clear your head and reduce your stress levels, and make you want to eat better. You have to learn to walk before you sprint. It's the little things that add up to big changes." 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wienerschnitzel Offering BIg City Vacation in Facebook Sweepstakes

 Are you a hot dog fan in need of a vacation?  Wienerschnitzel, the world’s largest hot dog chain, is launching a Big City Favorites Sweepstakes, giving Facebook fans the chance to win a free trip to one of three big cities: Chicago, New York City or Los Angeles.
The “Big City” sweepstakes runs April 8 through May 26, 2013 and shines the spotlight on three regional hot dog favorites: Chicago Dog, NY Coney Island Dog and LA Bacon Wrapped Street Dog. Fans may register to win on Wienerschnitzel’s “Big City Favorites” Facebook tab as well as earn bonus entries by sharing the contest with their Facebook friends. One randomly selected entry will win a trip for two to the city of their choice which includes roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations for four nights, and $2,000 total in spending cash. The final winner will be announced on or about May 27, 2013.
The “Big City Favorites” sweepstakes runs through May 26, 2013 at participating locations. Official rules and details are available online at The sweepstakes will be supported with television and radio advertising, email and online marketing, social media and in-store point-of-purchase materials.
Fans also have a chance to win prizes including free food and other merchandise by voting for their favorite “Big City” hot dog as well as sharing photos of themselves enjoying a meal at their local Wienerschnitzel.

Chipotle Hosting Cultivate Festivals — Text-To-WIn A Trip to One

 Chipotle Mexican Grill  has announced the lineup for its 2013 Cultivate food, music and ideas festival series, with events planned in San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago. The one-day festivals all include cooking demos by celebrity chefs, live music, local food artisans, regional beer and wines, a special Chipotle festival menu, and other activities emphasizing fresh and affordable food made with sustainable ingredients. Cultivate San Francisco is Saturday, June 8 in Golden Gate Park’s Hellman Hollow; Cultivate Denver is on Saturday, August 17 in City Park; and Cultivate Chicago is Saturday, September 7 in Lincoln Park. Admission for all events is free.
In addition to live music and onsite chef demonstrations, each Cultivate event will include six interactive experiences focused on sustainable food – including experiences from the California Avocado Commission and Tabasco Brand Products – as well as a Kids’ Zone which will feature crafts and activities. All three festivals will have an Artisans’ Hall offering a wide selection of local artisan-crafted food for sampling and purchase, and a Brewers’ Hall serving local and specialty beers and wines. New this year, Chipotle is partnering with a local brewer in each Cultivate city to create ‘Cultivate Farmhouse Ale,” a Saison-style beer that will be exclusively available at the festival.
In the spirit of healthful, sustainable food, Chipotle’s culinary team has also created a special menu of food that can be purchased at the festival. Food offerings will include a grilled flatbread gordita; chicken and Sofritastacos; charred esquites salad; and a jasmine rice bowl with pork and chicken meatballs or organic tofu from ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen, Chipotle’s Asian concept.
To give customers a chance to attend one of the festivals regardless of where they live, Chipotle is partnering with IZZE Sparkling Juice to give away a trip for two to the Cultivate event of the winner’s choice in San Francisco, Denver or Chicago. The prize includes air transportation, hotel, ground transportation, spending money, and special event-day privileges at Cultivate. To enter, text “IZZE” to 888222 and reply OK. Entries must be received between Monday, April 8 and Wednesday, May 8. No purchase necessary to enter. For  contest rules,  visit

Participants in the Cultivate San Francisco event include chefs Richard Blais (The Spence, HD1, and Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta); Michael Chiarello (Bottega in Napa Valley and Coqueta in San Francisco); Amanda Freitag (Food Network’s “Chopped” and “The Next Iron Chef”); Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal, Son of a Gun in Los Angeles) with Ludo Lefebvre (Trois Mec in Los Angeles); Bryan Petroff and Doug Quint of Big Gay Ice Cream (New York); Sarah and Evan Rich (Rich Table in San Francisco); Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen (San Francisco); Minh Tsai (Hodo Soy Beanery); and Nate Appleman and Joel Holland (Chipotle). The musical lineup includes Mayer Hawthorne, The Walkmen, Walk the Moon, LP, and Matt Costa.

Cultivate Denver includes chefs Blais, Freitag, Appleman and Holland, and adds Scott Parker (Table 6 in Denver), and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson (Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder and Pizzeria Locale in Denver and Boulder). Musicians include Cold War Kids, Good Old War, and others to be announced.

Chicago’s festival includes chefs Lefebvre, Shook, Dotolo, Appleman, and Holland, and adds Carla Hall (ABC’s “The Chew”); Paul Kahan (Avec, Big Star, The Publican, and Publican Quality Meat in Chicago); Graham Elliot (Graham Elliot, Grahamwich, and Graham Elliot Bistro in Chicago); Jonathon Sawyer (The Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat in Cleveland); Tony Mantuano (Terzo Piano and Spiaggia in Chicago); and Big Gay Ice Cream. Bands will include Walk the Moon and others to be announced. 

Chipotle’s inaugural Cultivate Festival was held in Chicago in 2011, with festivals in Chicago and Denver in 2012. This year’s festivals are hosted with the support of other like-minded partners, including the California Avocado Commission, who represents California avocado growers; Tabasco Brand Products, the No. 1 hot sauce brand in the U.S.; IZZE Sparkling Juice; Southwest Airlines, the nation’s largest domestic carrier; Wüsthof premium cutlery; Earthbound Farm, America’s largest grower of organic produce; Nestlé Waters Regional Spring Water Brands, sourced only from carefully selected natural springs, Born Better®; and Girasole Vineyards, a family owned Mendocino County, CA winery committed to organic farming for over 50 years.

For more information and full contest rules, visit

Thursday, April 4, 2013

BIGGEST LOSER: Jackson Carter Shares Behind the Scenes Info

Jackson Carter of "Biggest Loser" now at 180 lbs.  by Valerie Phillips
If you were amazed to see Jackson Carter's 138-pound weight loss at "The Biggest Loser" finale, you might be even more surprised to hear that he's lost another 10 pounds. 

I interviewed him yesterday at the Clearfield Aquatics Center where he works out.  He's just as warm and personable in "real life" as he was on TV — what you see is what you get.  Unlike some of the past contestants that you hear about, who start packing on the pounds the day after the finale, Carter is planning to lose 20 more pounds.  He works out 60-90 minutes each day.

"I weighed in at 190 at the finale, and my goal weight is 165, so I still have a little bit to go," said Jackson, who started out on the reality weight-loss series at 328 pounds. 
His time in the spotlight isn't over.  He and fellow finalist Jeff Nichols are working on an idea for a web series called "Mancation."  The idea came out of "The Biggest Loser" Week Nine, when he and Nichols spent a week living away from the ranch.
He's also planning to do speaking engagements. People can contact him on his website,
I'll share a lot of Jackson's weight loss tips in a story for the Standard-Examiner that will run next week. But I also had a chance to ask about the behind-the-scenes things we've all wondered about:  
Were contestants portrayed accurately? "We filmed 12 hours a day for an entire week for a one-week show, so there's no way that everything could be shown. But everyone was portrayed very accurately. the Biggest Loser sticks true to the story. When you cast good people and good things happen to them, you are going to get good TV."

But what about last season? I brought up the point that a lot of viewers didn't enjoy Season 13, where there was continual drama and backstabbing. 

Jackson was carefully diplomatic in his answer: 

"The last season was trying to make it an interesting story to pit the loved ones against each other. But people don't watch the Biggest Loser for the drama, they want to be inspired to make a positive change in their lives, whether it's quitting smoking or losing weight or whatever it is. Maybe that's why this season the cast was full of stellar all-stars who kept the fighting to a minimum, and we were supportive of each other. "

Speaking of supporting each other.... That's when I had to ask Jackson about episode 9, when one contestant would have to leave the ranch for the week, and Jackson insisted he go instead of the group's obvious choice, Gina. It appeared that Jackson was sacrificing himself in order to give Gina a chance to get back in good graces with the rest of the contestants. 
"My reasons were two-fold," he said. "I wanted the challenge of leaving the ranch, so I could see where I was still struggling while I could still go back to the ranch and get my ducks in a row before I got home," he said. "But I had seen Gina go through a lot of trouble. She was struggling and I know what that's like. I know why she was so emotional. I wanted her to know she had my support."

Pretty generous words when a $250,000 prize is at stake.

How did you spend your time? "TV is a lot more fun to watch than it is to make," he said. "Production days were a little crazy. There's a lot of production time.  We would film 12-15 hours a day. And we worked out 4 to 8 hours a day, between the trainers and our homework." 

Are there any weight loss tricks? There were no pills or gimmicks, "It's strictly diet and exercise," he said. "They really teach you how to be successful for the future. The nutritionist who comes in and teaches us how to prepare food so that it's healthy. And we learn the numbers -- how many calories you are taking in and burning, and what that translates to on the scale.
He still wears  a Bodymedia device on his arm, that monitors your body temperatuire, how many steps you take and how fast you're moving to track how many calories you are using all day. 
"It's one of the most helpful tools that we got on the ranch," he said. "We needed to know how many calories we were expending. It takes 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat."  

Why aren't  the players shown using the swimming pool more for workouts?
"We did use the pool, and it's great because it the water takes stress off your joints. But we couldn't be miked up in the pool,  so that's why it wasn't shown very often during filming."

Why aren't there more injuries with those  excruciating workouts? "We do so much rehabbing on the show," he said. "As soon as we're done with a workout, we go into the medical office and we ice our joints, eat some food and if there's time, take a nap."
But at one point, he both of his ankles were sprained and he still continued to work out.
"Bob is good about working with injuries — 'If this isn't working for you, let's try this.' "

About those trainers....Is Jillian really that mean? Again, Jackson tried to be diplomatic.
"What I will say about Jill is she's very passionate about what she does. I try to remind myself of that when she's screaming at us." 
He added, "Every trainer has his own method. Bob is very much about measuring yourself against yourself and making improvement; you don't have to be the best, just the best you.  Dolvett is 'I see the potential in you, let's find that together.' With Jillian, it's motivation through fear, it's all about the iron fist. That works for some people. Look at Danni."

He concluded, "I think I did so well because Dolvett helped me realize me realize that not only was I good enough, I was better than any expectation I had of myself."

Although Danni Allen ended up winning the $250,000 grand prize, Jackson contends that losing weight was "worth something that no amount of prize money could ever buy."

Sonora Grill Scholarship Fundraiser April 11

Weber State University and Sonora Grill are uniting to give low-income, first generation immigrant students in Utah aid to complete their higher education. Patrons can support the Sonora Grill Scholarship Fund at the Dining for Dollars fundraiser at Sonora Grill on Thursday, April 11 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

An estimated 65,000 undocumented students graduate from U.S. high schools each year. Only 5 to 10 percent will attend college because of cost or eligibility requirements. Many immigrant students graduate at the top of their class.
Sonora Grill has teamed up with Weber State’s Development Office, John B. Goddard School of Business and Economics, and Multi-Cultural Student Office to award a two-year, full-ride scholarship to one college sophomore. The recipient must be the first family member to attend college and be a Utah high school graduate. The scholarship is effective fall 2013. It includes tuition, books and fees.
On April 11, Sonora Grill will offer a selected menu for $12, or guests can order from the regular menu with the option to donate. The $12 menu includes an entrée, chips, salsa and drink. Reservations are suggested.
One hundred percent of all sales proceeds will be donated to Weber State University Foundation to fund the scholarship program. An anonymous donor will match Sonora Grill’s contribution up to $25,000. The program goal is to develop a dowry and grant annual scholarship allotments.
For additional information visit or call (801) 393-1999.
About Sonora Grill
Sonora Grill is a locally owned and operated restaurant. Sonora Grill is a locally owned and operated restaurant. They have a passion for Mexican cuisine and believe in creating menu items from scratch. From the smoky morita salsa to their authentic cheeses, you’ve never had Mexican like this before! Sonora Grill is located at 2310 Kiesel Ave. in Ogden. For additional information visit